Wednesday, April 6, 2011


**I'm sorry some of these photos didn't come through very clearly...I took them quickly right before he went into the MTC. I hope you can at least get the general idea**

One of the things that has meant the most to my missionary sons is the journal I make for them before they leave. I buy a blank, leather journal--I like to get one that is small enough for them to carry in their backpack so they have it with them and can read it often, but big enough to hold everything I want to include and still leave them room to write in it (my boys use this as their actual journal.) I start putting this together a couple of months before they leave so I have plenty of time to gather everything together I want to include. I use a glue stick to loosely attach everything to a page and then use shipping tape to "laminate" each page. Because it is impossible, of course, to actually put it through a laminator, this has worked really well and kept everything intact for two years. If you have scrabooking abilities, you can make the pages much better than what I've done below (although you need to be careful not to pile too much stuff on or the journal will not shut.) I've found that my boys don't care a whole lot about how cute the pages are's what's actually on the pages that has made such a difference for them on their missions. Let me apologize ahead of time for the poor quality of the pictures below...I realized this journal was about to go to Kentucky so I hurriedly snapped a few photos with my phone right before my last son went in the MTC. I know they resemble something a two-year-old might take (actually, my two-year-old grandson could do much better than that!) but I hope they will at least give you an idea of some of the things I included in his journal.

I put his information (name, address, mission office address) on the inside front cover. In case it is ever lost, I want whoever finds it to be able to return it.

The past few years, they have been requesting that new missionaries bring a copy of their 4-generation pedigree chart with them to the MTC. This journal is the perfect place for that.

We actually found ancestors who lived in Kentucky, where my youngest son is serving (soon to leave the MTC.) I thought it would be fun for him to have their names and how they are related to him in case he ran across a distant cousin or something. I put that part of his pedigree chart in his journal, too.

I put his mission call on one of the very first pages of the journal with a picture of the prophet next to it.

Include a copy of his patriarchal blessing. Scan it in your computer to edit the size or just use a copier and adjust it to fit in the journal.

They will need to know D&C 4 by is nice to have it in their journal for them to look at while they are learning it.

The Standard of Truth is the other thing they will memorize and recite as a mission. Before they have memorized it, it is nice for them to have a copy. (By the way, there is nothing in this world like hearing missionaries recite this together at a zone conference. It's sure to bring tears every time!)

If there is a temple in the mission boundaries, it is nice for them to have a picture of the temple along with a copy of the dedicatory prayer (you can find this at

This is one of my all-time favorites! I always give it a place of honor in the journal! :)

I add a few pages of quotes like this one that I have just typed out. If it is a quote that is especially inspiring, I usually give it its own page. But having a list of quotes is really useful for them in case they need to give a talk, share one with an investigator, etc.

We have a tradition in our family...every time someone is called on a mission, we all go to lunch and sit around for hours (literally) giving him advice. I write it all down as it is said (my husband records it on his phone as a backup) and afterwards I transcribe it and put it in his journal. My returned missionary sons have told me over and over how much this meant to them and how it strengthened them during the bad times. You will see a link on the upper right-hand part of the blog that says "missionary advice." I have listed there all of the advice we have recorded since we started doing this 10 years ago. You can certainly use any of that in your son's journal. You could also start gathering your own advice from people in your family who have served missions, friends, etc. It might be more meaningful to your child if it comes from people he knows.

Besides the pages of advice, I also ask all of my kids to write our missionary a handwritten note of encouragement (my husband and I do it too...sometimes even grandparents.) I put them all in his journal so he has them handy and can read them often.

I always include this quote. It speaks directly to them and is so inspiring!

I first saw this quote when our oldest son was called to serve in Japan. This was their mission "theme." I love the way it spells out their purpose and reminds them exactly why they are there.

This is one of my favorite quotes to put in the journal. It is empowering and inspiring and helps them understand exactly what their mission is all about. It is also one of those that helps them as they read it over and over.

I always wait to give this journal to my missionary son as we are saying goodbye at the MTC. I want everything in it to be new to himi--not something he has been browsing through for the past few weeks. I just feel like the things inside will have more of an impact on him if he is seeing them for the first time when he is sitting alone that night feeling alone. That also allows me to put some notes in from his setting-apart the night before. I want him to remember what was said--the blessings he was promised, the comfort he was given, the inspiration he felt--as men holding the Priesthood of God laid their hands on his head and set him apart as a missionary.


  1. Nancy, thank you so much for this! I live in Arizona and saw your post about teaching this class. I am so glad you started this blog. I love the ideas you share here. I hope you won't mind if I share this blog with the missionary moms list. We also loved that our son's great grandma served in Ky 40 years ago, and that we discovered our first ancestors in the church live and joined in Kentucky. Makes his mission all the more meaningful. We have each written a letter to the departing missionary and put it in his back pack to read at the MTC, but all these extra ideas are wonderful! I have one RM, one in the field, and one getting his papers ready. And two more over the years to go. Thanks again.

  2. Nancy, thanks so much for taking the time. This really helped me. I was not able to read the quote above that you mention is your favorite, nor can I see the reference to it. The picture of the Savior is with it, just 1 above the last. Would you mind sending me the quote or posting the reference. Thanks so much! Janine

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    2. Me, too! (The favorite quote with the picture of the Savior.) It's blurry and I can't seem to figure out what it is. (I did see that it said President Hinkley on the bottom. :-) )

      I LOVE this idea, thanks so much for sharing it! My son (first of my 2 children, both boys) will be leaving next month to serve in the Ohio Columbus Mission and I think he will love this! Thank you!

    3. I'd Love to know what this quote is as well. I'm preparing for my daughter to go in the next 30 days!

    4. She put the quote you ladies are asking about on her July 18th post for everyone. So if you jump ahead it will be there for you to copy and use! :)

  3. I've just been looking at ideas for presents to give my brother as he leaves in a few weeks. I noticed that your son went to Louisville. That's where my brother is going!

  4. I love this! Thank you! I haven't been able to locate the temple dedicatory prayer on Can you help me w/ this? TIA

  5. I found it at Thanks again for this great idea!

  6. this is a great idea. I was trying to think of something meaningful to do for my four boys one day when they serve. My first has a couple of years still but then it will be 8 years in a row and i would like them to get excited for something they get from mom and dad before when they serve. Thank you.

  7. My daughter is being set apart at the MTC. How can I get a copy of her Setting Apart Blessing?

  8. Thank you, I loved this idea! I used the Arc journal from Staples and that way I can actually laminate the sheets and put tabs in it and she can add and move pages as she needs.

    1. Tiffany Peterson how has the ARC journal worked out for your missionary? I'm intrigued by the flexibility of it and I'm thinking of using it to do this great journal idea!!